[HanCinema's Film Review] "Hot Blooded"

The Busan gangland "Hot Blooded" didn't do well back in May of 2022. Granted, anything would have been outperformed by "The Outlaws" coming out a week later, but "Hot Blooded" could only just barely beat the political documentary "The Red Herring" about the Cho Kuk scandal. Despite being headlined by Jung Woo and Kim Kap-soo, "Hot Blooded" only earned four hundred thousand admissions. So what happened?


Well, the main problem "Hot Blooded" has going for it is just...not really very much of interest aside from being a typical gangster story. Jung Woo's Hee-soo is trying to get out of the gangster racket and just wants to live out in the country doing this newfangled cottage fad. Oh, this story takes place in the nineties, for whatever that matters. The point is, whatever Hee-soo's reason for wanting to get out of the gangster racket, it's nothing we haven't seen before.

The closest "Hot Blooded" gets to interesting characterization is with Army (played by Lee Hong-nae) who plays Hee-soo's surrogate son. Ironically, while most of the gangsters in this movie are fairly dull, Hee-soo's domestic life is oddly compelling. He lives with In-sook (played by Yoon Ji-hye), an olderish woman who's Army's mother. Incidentally, Yoon Ji-hye's casting here is a bit odd. She's only a couple of years older than Jung Woo, and Hee-soo doesn't seem to think he's really old enough to be Army's dad.

Anyway, played by Lee Hong-nae, who you're most likely to know from his role as a villain in "The Uncanny Counter" drama series, Army is a well-meaning guy who's nevertheless a gangster, because everyone in this movie is a gangster. And he's an interesting character because he's the only other man Hee-soo seems to genuinely enjoy spending time with. They're a good influence on each other, and there's a sense that Hee-soo came up with this goofy cottage idea at least in part to help keep Army out of jail.

But there's only a sense of that. "Hot Blooded" doesn't deal with these more well emotionally grounded interpersonal relationships so much as it deals with Busan area gang politics and port control. Pretty much none of this is interesting. I couldn't even really keep track of most of the different factions since so little seems to distinguish them from each other as they pettily negotiate over business deals.

"Hot Blooded" also fails to really do much to build excitement. We know from the beginning that the story is leading up to Hee-soo holding a gun on a boat with a bunch of major gang leaders. It's not really much of a spoiler to say that he uses this gun to shoot people, even if the opening flash forward has the pretense of no one seeming to so much as suspect that the gun is already loaded. Incidentally, despite seeming like a metaphor, the Korean title of "Hot Blooded" really is just hot blood, with their being some definite irony in the fact that the title doesn't really work as a metaphor either for such a cold-blooded, minimal action story.

Written by William Schwartz


"Hot Blooded" is directed by Cheon Myeong-gwan, and features Jung Woo, Kim Kap-soo, Choi Moo-sung, Ji Seung-hyun, Kim Hae-gon, Yoon Ji-hye. Release date in Korea: 2022/05/26


Available on DVD from YESASIA

DVD (English Subtitled)


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